Youth Stories


Welcome to the “Youth Stories” page on our website!

On this page, we will post poetry and other written submissions from youth who want to share their story and raise awareness around mental health issues! Not only is this a place for youth to showcase their talent and share their story, it is a place for other youth who are going through something similar to feel they are not alone and inspired. Adults and other youth who visit this page can gain a better understanding of your experiences which can help decrease stigma.

 If you are a youth who has experienced mental health challenges or have been involved with the foster care, juvenile justice, mental health or substance abuse systems, please share your story! Be an inspiration to others and help fight stigma! Contact Jenah Cason at for more information on getting your story on our page!

Amber’s Story

My name is Amber Marie Westbrook. I was born at Conway hospital in Myrtle beach South Carolina. When I was two and a half years old I was diagnosed with leukemia by my pediatrician Dr. James Lindsey.  My parents took me down to MUSC in Charleston, S.C., so I could get treatment and chemotherapy.  I was very scared and did not know what was happening.  The cancer treatments made me feel sick and my hair fell out.   I was very sad. My classmates showed me lots of love and support and brought me lots of fun hats.  Sadly, I relapsed with leukemia, but this time I had to get total body radiation, chemotherapy, and a bone marrow transplant. No one in my family was a match.  Thankfully, the hospital was able to locate an anonymous bone marrow donor. That person saved my life.  But my story does not end there.  I had many life threatening complications after the transplant, and one of them resulted in an injury to my brain.  I could not walk, talk or swallow for many months.  My brain injury makes it harder for me to control myself.  Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed with the memories of my illness and the sadness of losing my friends and hundreds of days of my life spent in hospitals.  I don’t like having a brain injury and sometimes I feel depressed about how it has changed my life. I feel like most people don’t understand how hard each day is for me since I look healthy on the outside.   I struggle every day with anxiety and fear about getting cancer again because I’ve also had several other cancers and surgeries.  It has been a long and tough road of recovery and I am thankful to be a survivor.  I am thankful to God, my parents, brothers, family, friends, doctors and therapists for supporting and encouraging me. I am thankful that I am cancer free today.  

Poems By Heather Wilcox

My Dance with Depressioin

By Heather Wilcox

What’s this feeling?

This sadness without reasoning

What’s with these restless nights?

Imagining irrational frights

I fear the unknown

To be alone

My friends slowly fade

Longing for happiness I prayed

What’s with this rejection?

Fear is my detection.

Slowly losing my concentration

What’s the causation?

Watching my grades fall,

Talking with my professor I recall.

Struggling to find my words

Like decoding passwords

Will he understand?

Or, will he reprimand?

Can I find strength?

My loved ones have faith.

With support, I am strong.

Realizing my doubts are wrong.

With Sheer determination

To fight this frustration

To escape from self-hate

Finding a fulfilling fate

In bringing forth awareness

The Telephone Jitters

By Heather Wilcox

When the phone rings, I hesitate.

My heart palpitates.

My palms become sweaty.

Will I sound unsteady?

My hands tremble.

It’s inescapable!

Am I capable?

Can I speak to this stranger?

Will it be a challenger?

Will I humiliate myself?

I reach for the phone,

in the fear of the unknown.

I answer in silence.


My Battle Song

By Heather Wilcox

Some people say “Snap out of it.”

It’s hard, I admit.

But it’s a disease.

Can’t you see?

Some people say. “Act normal.”

But it doesn’t exist.

Why can’t we coexist?

Some people say, “You can’t succeed.”

Proving them wrong is my creed.

It is my desire

to inspire.

So, Stand tall and unite.

Fight the stigma I invite.

Together, we can bring the realization

for a more understanding nation.


Arribelle’s Story

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